God, the beginnings of stories always feel chaotic because there’s so much that I don’t know (and more that I’m not aware I don’t know). So for now I’m just trying to read as much as I can find about “Krotoa”/Eva.
I guess I’m starting with the story of “Krotoa”, because that feels like the point of accelerated and dramatic change. Also, its a point in South African history that’s been used often enough in Afrikaans literature by white Afrikaans writers. Which makes me suspicious because of the lack of historical clarity on key points in the narrative.
For instance, I’d learned her name as Krotoa. But since I don’t understand Khoi-languages I missed that that’s apparently not even her name – the !Uriǁ’aeǀona term, !Oroǀõas (transliterated by the Dutch as Krotoa) might just have meant ward or child under guardianship. So her real name is not known even.
As a young girl she was sent by her interpreter uncle (Autshumao) to live with and work for Jan van Riebeeck and his wife. She acquired not only Dutch, but Portuguese (and I think also French, since Maria van Riebeeck was a French Hugenot?) – major trading languages for that period.
Previously (2018, while working on the tile piece) I’d read a comparative essay about “Krotoa”/Eva, Malintzin and Pocahontas. The author, Pamela Scully argues that the eerie similarity between the three women’s personal experiences (the same narrative pattern, but on three separate continents) reflects how indigenous peoples were utilized within a global colonial system.
Also, started to think a bit more about how to tell a story like this without further perpetuating problematic ideas. Probably have to come at this one sideways.